A Conversation With: Lauren Barr KatarskiEnergy and regulatory practice lead, Bravo Group Inc.
Lauren Barr Katarski, 35, joined Bravo Group as the firm's energy and regulatory practice lead in April 2018.
Most recently, she worked with Duquesne Light Co. as manager of government affairs. She has previously served as executive policy manager for former Commissioner Pamela A. Witmer at the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.
Katarski graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia with a bachelor’s degree in political science. She resides in Wellsville, York County with her husband, Brian, and dog, Rosie.
Q: What are the biggest issues facing the utility industry today?
A: The energy industry, as a general term, encompasses such a vast array of issues, which is what makes it exciting. Pennsylvania is a state with tremendous natural resources and a geographic location that enables us to take advantage of them. There are constant advancements in technology with respect to the generation and transportation of energy, and evolutions in the way consumers use that energy. These innovations are all underscored by the imperative to have the infrastructure in place to serve those needs. Because customers in Pennsylvania can shop for their generation, we have the benefit of a robust competitive energy market. This leads to evolution in the role of public utilities.
What kinds of policies will you be advocating in your new role at Bravo Group?
A major factor in my decision to join Bravo was the fact that our clients are on the leading edge and the front lines of the energy industry. One of the major issues facing the industry is the effort in several states, including Pennsylvania, by large corporations to secure ratepayer-funded bailouts to increase the profitability of nuclear generation facilities. We are actively engaged in ensuring that the energy markets are allowed to continue to function without the state choosing winners and losers by subsidizing one form of generation. As it stands, cost-effective and increasingly efficient natural gas generation and decreasing costs of renewable generation are already helping to drive down emissions while enabling lower power prices for consumers.
How does your experience at the Public Utility Commission play into your work in the private sector?
My work at the commission was crucial from the standpoint of the breadth of issues to which I was exposed. It afforded me the ability to immerse myself in so many sectors of the energy industry generally, and the important role of public utilities specifically. The regulatory process is, and rightfully so, designed to be a deliberative one. My time spent getting to understand that process has proven exceedingly beneficial in my work in the private sector. The level of commitment of the individuals at the PUC, from the chair and commissioners to the staff, is exceptional and reflects the important role that the commission plays and the reality that the industries it regulates permeate so many aspects of Pennsylvanians’ day to day lives. The magnitude of that has stuck with me, and I am looking forward to applying my experience and relationships in both the regulatory and legislative realms to my work at Bravo.
What do you do around the house to save energy?
We have switched many of our appliances to more energy-efficient options and use a smart thermostat and timers on lights that we may forget to turn off. And since I previously mentioned the competitive market in Pennsylvania, we also shop for our generation, which is a really simple process and can help reduce energy costs fairly significantly.